Thursday, April 29, 2010

BJJ has ruined my wardrobe...

...none of my pants fit the same. The jeans are fine, but my actual suit pants, I swear I'm gonna have to donate them or something. They look better in a sense, but while I've gotten smaller, my hips are proportionately wider. Thanks hip escapes.
New new theme music: Lil Wayne's Steady Mobbin is on everytime...every...single time...I'm on my way to the gym. It's a great song, but it's so dirty the radio edit might as well be an instrumental. That and Say Ahh by Trey Songz. Not my style of music at all, but I really like it.
But yeah...another lady white belt has been catching me in armbars every time we roll and finally, tonight, I was able to get out of one using a technique or rather, a principle, I read up on a couple weeks back. Funny how things can take a while to sink in...or maybe a few failed attempts to understand.
I'm starting to wonder if I'm a lazy roller. Mid roll tonight my instructor called out to me to "move those hips!" (which made me laugh, because it sounded like a line  from the aforementioned Lil Wayne track). It's possible I just think too much. I've noticed that I stop to look and get a handle of what's going on in a position if I haven't been exposed to it.
I'm having some issues getting to my knees I THINK when I'm in kesa gatame. Lady wrestler keeps me pretty tight to the ground and when I try to turn my hips out, I hit a wall where I couldn't rotate anymore. I tried it again after she got me back in the position again and got a little bit further. I'll have to give it a shot again next time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This frozen lime is amazing...

I'm starting to regret skipping that last acupuncture session two years ago when I first hurt my neck dancing. What was it Dr. Lin said? Come back for the last session to make sure it heals properly? If you skip it it will be easier to re-injure yourself in the future? Well, future Megan is disappointed in past Megan...but then past-Megan didn't know she'd be taking up Brazilian jiu jitsu.

So yeah...I tweaked my neck last night (learning a counter to a basic triangle)and rolling a frozen lime on it has been a token of my gratitude, it's going in my eggs (sounds crazy, but it's really good with lobster and chives). I'm breaking one of the cardinal rules of traditional Chinese medicine (no cold on's taught that it leads to arthritis), so maybe I'll try another heat patch tomorrow...or a BOILED lime...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What to do with this strength/size thing...

After reading a post on tips for new female grapplers, I really started thinking about the application of some of the advice to larger women. If the advantages that most women have in BJJ are smaller bodies, more flexibility and better mobility, I'm playing with a slightly different deck of cards. I'm not small, I have average flexibility (that's improving) and am not particularly agile or mobile. I've been checking out videos of Lana Stefanac since my build is somewhat similar (she's a little shorter and heavier)

Last class I got another remark of surprise at my strength from my instructor. I gotta admit that it made me happy, but I still question how strong I actually am. It's not like I can match muscle with guys my size, or even smaller ones. Full on military pushups are still not my forte and I won't even metion I doubt that pound for pound, I'm actually STRONG. I suspect that I'm somewhere between "strong for a girl" and "stronger than reasonably expected for my size and gender."

I think though, that it's a matter of understanding what advantages to use when. My strength level is what it is depending on how I develop it. What does change pretty drastically though, is the strength of my opponents. My school makes an effort to pair women with women, but also to rotate partners, so I end up with the stronger guys on a regular basis too. While I know they hold back because I'm female, I often wonder if they hold back a little less because I'm a larger, stronger female.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

100 Push-ups

Back on the 100 pushups program. I had to reset to the middle of week
2. I've been lazy the last two weeks and have been skipping that and
FlowFit. I've still been stretching regularly at work though. I've
also been hiding from the small stability ball, but after the last
couple guard passes we learned, I can see that it would be a big help.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Heeltastic and BJJ don't mix...

Ok, so about a year ago, I bought my first as-seen-on-TV product. I gotta admit, I felt a little seedy doing it. Turns out, there are some pretty effective do-dads advertised on TV at 2am on the Cartoon Network (I love green bags...I hate space bags).

My latest acquisition has been HeelTastic Intensive Heel Therapy. A supposed miracle cure for foot related issues. I have to say, it works. My feet look a lot better. A quick foot disclaimer, mine aren't as gnarly as the ones in the ad. They were actually reasonably cute before dance and bjj.

After posting this online (showing off my purdy new dance shoes), the photo was hijacked and there was even a thread dedicated to them on an Italian message board (apparently men in Italy think you can tell a lot about a woman by her feet...a whole lot). But alas, salsa and BJJ haven't been kind to them. I swear they're changing shape.

Anyway, I put some night before last. A whole night, morning shower, work day and pre-class shower before evening class. I swear I couldn't get a decent grip on the mats to save my life. So yeah...gonna have to rethink this heel therapy deal.

Friday, April 16, 2010

BJJ and Chess

I was sitting on the mat next to the kids' and Muay Thai instructors watching some sparring. I'd just finished my intro class with the kids' instructor and they were explaining some basic principles and answering my questions. It was all so snuggly (of course this was before the laps and pushups and ukemis and...yeah.) The kids' instructor said one thing that I think sold me on BJJ. He said it was like physical chess. I liked the idea, but honestly took it as one of those similes people throw around to make some activity more accessible to newbies.

Well, last night, during my second roll, my instructor called out that I only had two moves to get on top. My mind froze. I'm surprised I didn't get submitted right then and there. The chess analogy immediately made sense...I can't do anything with it, but my perspective has shifted a bit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I don't know what I'm doing...and I kinda like that...

So we all know that Lord of the Rings is the best movie ever in the history of film no contest arguments or close seconds. That said, this is one of my favorite scenes.

There's something energizing about having to claw your way up through something incredibly difficult. I really, really didn't think I had it in me after grad school, Mandarin and a seemingly endless flow of new projects at work. Getting through that "ignorant period" isn't just difficult, it drains your will overall. But...I started BJJ anyway. I knew I wanted to do it and showed up at American Top Team regardless of the fact that I felt like I had no fight left in me. Strangely, I'm starting to find motivation in the sheer size of the challenge of jiu jitsu, motivation in the fact that I know and can do so little.

Tonight was a small class (just me and another lady...woo!), so it was open forum on questions and techniques. I've been having a hard time getting triangles right (getting actual chokes, not just uncomfortable and annoying squeezes) on people with broader shoulders (which seems pretty silly since I have a 38" inseam) so I wanted to work on those. It's amazing how I've learned the triangle, "forgotten" it, learned it again, "forgotten" it again...but I think that's the process that builds quality. I have to admit, I really do enjoy working on and perfecting basics.

Rolling...I just don't use my upper body enough and I think it's because I know it's weak. My triceps burnout crazy early on almost every roll. I felt them failing on my first roll against a white belt...I like getting paired with her...always a good fight. I lose, but still a good fight:) I think I sustain more injuries rolling with ladies than with the guys. I worry about my weight less with bigger guys though.

Second round was with a blue and while I was in open guard, my instructor kept telling me to repeat pushing his knee through to get myself to half guard, then side control...and I was so reluctant. I just knew I didn't have any push left. I just don't think about manipulating people with my upper body.

I think I'm moving better, bridging better and hip escaping a little better. I believe I'm preventing the cross face a little more frequently and I'm starting to feel totally great after class:)

Monday, April 12, 2010

I sometimes wish there weren't any belt colors.

I know they serve a purpose, but for me, it makes it a bit more difficult for me to focus on just learning jiu jitsu. I could really stay a white belt for life.
I'd really like to forget last class...and I'm not exactly sure why. I even put off writing an entry or taking notes until four days later. I felt burnt out half way through the drills. It took me more tries and help and correcting than usual to learn the technique of the day. I was having a hard time applying pressure with my hips so I had to do a movement drill for hip pressure that I find incredibly awkward. I just tried it again...still awkward, but I figure a few more days of it and I'll be able to start applying it. I don't think it was really any worse than any other class. Definitely no worse than the beginning. I think I'm just still deep in the woods of BJJ. I rolled with a purple and a blue, and I'm still allowing myself to get stuck on my back and not using my hip escapes properly. I did, however, spot two omoplatas (good at the drill, never could see it while rolling).
I hate to admit it, but I think I'm behind where I expected to be after four months training...never mind missing almost a month around Christmas and just having recently started attending more than once a week. Gotta love unreasonable expectations.
I just tried FlowFit again and the knees feel fine. It was quite a bit easier, which I attribute to going to class halfway consistantly. I also think I may have made enough gains in hip flexibility to take some of the pressure off my knees. These few weeks off though...I can tell the difference it made. I stay looser when I'm doing it on a halfway regular basis. I'm going to have to start dragging myself out of bed and just, well, doing it.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grappling with Hibiclens Use

I remember when I didn't think about germs. I knew what they were, was aware of infectious diseases, could even identify a few under a microscope, but I didn't think about them much. Then I took Introduction to Epidemiology and my world changed. I became aware of ping-pong gonorrhea and fecal-oral diseases. The final nail in the coffin came when I woke up the morning of my 25th birthday and realized I had picked up viral conjunctivitis from a family member. If you haven't had it, it's like the regular pinkeye, but on steroids. I avoided mirrors and was quarantined for two weeks. I dare you to do an image search...I had the bubbly kind.

And yet, somehow, I've ended up in the high-contact, high-critter-count world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. When I started, I immediately stocked up on suspension foam, anti-bacterial soap, band aids, hand sanitizer and my beloved Hibiclens. I even started rinsing my mouth guard in mouthwash. (...ok...that's just because it's a nice little surprise before training.) I was (and am) most scared of MRSA, a nasty version of staph that came about after decades of the use of antibiotics. At first, no one knew that the bacteria would evolve. I, however, can't claim ignorance. Though I'm not on the clinical side, I get a regular look at the treatment regimens of patients and still subscribe to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. No excuses.

Georgette's entry on cleanliness got me thinking. So I'm contemplating cutting back on my use of Hibiclens to cuts and scrapes. I only use it on non-gi-covered areas after training and sometimes laundry (I've been a bit obsessed with clean sheets as of late), but I'm still not sure how I feel about that. Rolling with stinky people does worry me, but I'll continue to take my usual precautions, and switch to a bag that I can wash right after I set foot in the house along with my gi.

Hibiclens Antimicrobial and Antiseptic Skin Cleanser Liquid - 32 oz

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Open mat totally wasn't what I expected...

First, I have to say that I have some serious respect for people that respect teaching. I've run into quite a few "professors" that had little to no regard for
their role as teachers; some that even seemed to resent that they had to interract with students. So, when I heard Master DaMatta telling the other instructors what should be addressed in their classes and teaching methods he was working on, it made me quite happy.

Work hadn't left me completely drained this week, and I've been feeling normal within minutes of getting home, so I decided to fill out my first 3 session week by going to the all-levels/open mat class. I'd gone on a Friday back when it was just another beginner's class and thought this would be the same thing with a few higher belts mixed know...a review of technique, an hour of sparring. I wrong.

When I first pulled up, I actually felt pretty calm. I walked in and asked one of the blue belts that was already warming up if white belts were welcome and got an enthusiastic "Sure!" in response. Great. I changed and got on the mats. As I opened the door, I heard Master Da Matta's voice. I'd assumed he'd be working down at the Coconut Creek location, but figured he was here for some other reason. When I was paired with my instructor to warm up, I realized I was dead wrong. Now, my nervousness around BJJ is pretty irrational. I freak out if my instructor comes in with a fresh haircut, taking it as a sign that we're going to be working on backflips off the wall or BASE jumping, so, on its own, my being nervous doesn't really mean much. However, I'd sat through bits of a few of the advanced classes and they've always intimidated me.

We started out with the usual drills. Drilling with your instructor is good stuff. He showed me how to shift an omoplata into a triangle mid-way through and Marcos cleaned up a couple of issues with my guard...muscle tension man...muscle tension. He also pointed out that I'm not locking the triangle at the end...other than that though, my omoplata is "perfect". I do love hearing that word from people who don't use it frivolously. Woo:)

We then moved onto a...I guess hip scooting, movement drill from butterly guard that's intended to develop hook strength. After running through that, we moved into the actual sweep. So...many...details. Two variations. The theory behind it. I've pretty much decided to keep all that separate from this blog at this point. I'd like to keep this readable and a page of tips and theory isn't very entertaining. I muddled my way through it and the variations. I trained with my instructor, then a blue and survived the whistle (At least I think I did...I felt really behind. Physical exhaustion had completely shut my brain down by then end. I was amazed at how patient my instructor was through the whole thing.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Release the Kraken (Best Chic-fil-a lemonade...EVER)

I'm sorry, but this stuff is amazing and I needed to share. Oh...and Clash of the Titans is out tomorrow. My life will be complete.
BJJ has given me a new appreciation of showers. I used to be of the utilitarian school of're there to get clean and groom...none of that singing/hanging out stuff. Now, they're like a fine wine...meant to be sipped slowly and savored. Best served with anti-bacterial soap.
We were back on the adaptation of over/under from butterfly guard. I had a horrible time getting around the inside knee, but as usual, it was because I was ignoring the fact that I have to actually CONTROL my opponent, not just avoid them. Need to go re-read the Art of War, I do. Details I was missing:
1) Flare the elbow that's under so the leg has less of a chance of replacing.
2) Don't flare the elbow that's kimura. Keep it tight.
3) Pinch the legs together and move your body around the knee.
4) Lean into his body and turn inward while pulling his lower body up a bit (makes the knee easier to clear).
I worked with a blue belt that helped me out a lot with it. He also used me to test out a theory he apparently had on getting around hooks that were especially tight. I was able to get around them by moving my knee forward (negating the hook), then whipping my leg out and around.
Second round, I was up against the same purple belt that reminded me to replace my guard last class. This time, he brought up a great point. He was setting up one of the 86716875697853 chokes he seems to know (I think he choked me with my own ankle tonight) and I was busy trying to defend it. He said I should have also been concentrating on escaping my hips. Rolling with him, I also realized the importance of adjusting. Not everything comes with one, quick, perfect movement. Sometimes you have to work to get where you want to go.
Next, I rolled with the same blue belt I'd drilled with. He showed me a pass for open guard...which I need, because every higher belt I roll with seems to go straight for that or butterfly right out of the gate. I was already pinning the leg, but was getting swept left and right. Turns out needed to get my other leg inside so it's free to move, pinned the leg, switched my hips backward/to the side, brought my other leg around behind me and gotten into side control.
Ooo...third round, I got a chance to try out the push-pull theory I read about in Mastering Jiu Jitsu. Basically, if someone is pushing you, you pull them. If they pull, you push. Worked quite well, even though it took me a couple tries to get the timing right.
I think I'm starting to adjust to the group. I left after changing, and wished I'd have hung around a bit after class tonight, but I'm just starting to lose the feeling that I immediately need to crawl home and lick my wounds after class.